Greek water polo club Apollon Smyrnis issued an announcement regarding the outcome of the tournament of the Qualification Round 2 for the Champions League, held in Zagreb (October 8 – 10). Apollon finished 3rd in the group, behind Crvena Zvezda and Mladost, and didn’t advance to the playoffs.
Apollon’s announcement sent to media, which we received this week:
“Letter to the European Swimming Federation, LEN, through KOE (Greek Federation), about what happened in the last 36 seconds in the game of the 3rd matchday of the 4th group of the 2nd LEN Champions League qualifying round between the host Mladost Zagreb and Red Star (10/10/2021) and which deprived him of the qualification to the next phase of the event, was sent by Apollon Smyrnis.
We remind you that the “light brigade”, having defeated Montpellier 15-14 for the 3rd game, had just finished its presence in the group with two victories and 6 points (it had defeated Mladost 10-9 in the premiere and had lost 14-8 from Red Star in the 2nd game). This was followed by the last match of the group at the Mladost Pool in Zagreb between Red Star, which also had 6 points, and Mladost, which had 3.
The Serbs would be eliminated only in the unlikely scenario of their defeat with a difference of 12 goals, while even in their defeat with four goals and less they would finish first in the standings. And Mladost should beat the Red Star with any score, so that it reaches 6 points and qualifies for a triple tie of Red Star, Mladost and Apollon.
Apollon would qualify second in case of Red Star’s victory over Mladost or in case of a draw in the match, in which the following happened in the end: At 36 ” before the end of the match and with the score at 8-8, Vuk Milojevic of Red Star was permanently eliminated from the game, as he had completed three eliminations. Mladost with extra player in their attack shoots out with 30.5 seconds left for the end and the possession of the ball pass to the Serbs. So, it was enough for Red Star to hold the ball and the match would be over. However, the Serbian coach Aleksandar Filipovic threw Vuk Milojevic in the water again, who, we repeat, at 36” had received his 3rd penalty and was expelled from the match !!! So the referees whistled a penalty against Red Star in 28.5 seconds, with Rakovac making it 9-8 for Mladost! In the last attack of the match, the Serbs won extra player and literally in the last phase of the match, Piesivac, unguarded from 2 meters, sent the ball on the goalkeeper of Mladost. So 9-8 remained with the Serbs and Croats advancing together in the 3rd round.
What Apollon Smyrnis asks through his letter
The above is described in the letter of the Apollon Smyrnis for the information of LEN, with the footnote that all the matches, as well as the match Mladost – Red Star, were broadcasted via Live Streaming from the official website of the European Federation. Therefore, it is possible to find the video of the broadcast, in order to certify the “strange” competitive behavior of the Red Star team, as well as the unprecedented event of the entry of Vuk Milojevic (No. 6) by order of his coach, while the Serbs knew that he had just been sent off with 3 penalties and how their action would shape the result to the detriment of their team.
Apollon clarifies that they know that the result of Mladost – Red Star (9-8) has been recorded and that nothing, can change now in terms of qualification, however they express their annoyance and anger for the way it was lost. In fact, they ask LEN to address it through its competent body, investigating the incident and assigning the corresponding responsibilities if a violation of the principles and rules of sports is found.
At the same time, Apollon Smyrnis explained that they have sent this letter in view of the fact that LEN, as the highest sports authority in Europe, which certainly seeks to hold “clean games”, should be aware of such “strange” incidents, expressing the concern about the existence and similarity of similar serious incidents in the future, which affect and reduce the prestige of the sport of water polo.
Apollon Smyrnis Board of Directors”